The center of Tropical Storm Beta remained squarely aimed at the central coast of Texas on Sunday, but bands of heavy rain from the system has put much of south Louisiana under threat of potential flooding at least through the middle of the week.
The National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for most of south Louisiana — including the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas — warning that soaking thunderstorms from Beta could dump between 3 and 5 inches through Wednesday. Higher rainfall totals are possible in some local areas.
The National Weather Service said that in addition to flash floods, heavy rainfall could potentially push some rivers into flood stage.
In New Orleans, city officials lifted parking restrictions on neutral grounds and urged residents to move cars to higher areas.
“We are becoming more concerned about the threat of heavy rainfall beginning Monday night (and) possibly lasting into Wednesday,” the National Weather Service’s Slidell office said in an advisory on Sunday morning. “A band of heavy rain detached from Beta is expected to develop across the area (with) the heaviest rain likely Tuesday (and) Tuesday night.”
Winds of 20 mph — and gusts of up to 35 mph — are expected across much of Louisiana roughly south of Interstate 10. Officials urged residents across the area to tie down or bring trash cans, yard furniture and other lightweight and loose household items inside.
Coastal flooding from Beta’s storm surge also poses a potential, though less significant, threat to Louisiana. Low-lying coastal roads could become inundated at high tide.
Moderate coastal flooding was already beginning on Sunday afternoon, with flood gauges at Shell Beach and the Bonnet Carre Spillway reaching moderate flood stage. State Police closed La. 1 south of Golden Meadow at 7 p.m. Sunday evening — cutting off traffic from Grand Isle, Leeville and Port Fourchon — due to high water, but officials planned to re-evaluate conditions on Monday morning.
A storm surge warning remains in effect from Port Aransas, Texas to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, and a tropical storm warning remains in effect from Port Aransas to Morgan City, Louisiana.
Coastal flood warnings — with potential inundation at high tide of 2 to 4 feet — were in effect for Orleans, Upper Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. The National Weather Service also issued a coastal flood warning — with potential inundation of 1 to 2 feet — for the North Shore, coastal Acadiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, Beta was moving at west-northwest at 6 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Beta is expected to make landfall on the central Texas coast late Monday night.